Townhome Alternatives in the Age of Covid-19

In an age(?) of social distancing, so-called “townhome alternatives” may be getting a second look from Baby Boomers looking to downsize.

So, exactly what is a townhome alternative?

At least to me, it’s shorthand for a detached, single-family home with many of the following attributes:

—Around 1,500 to 2,000 square feet (enough for three, decent-sized Bedrooms);
—Little or no yard (but, room for a small garden and/or sitting area — see photo immediately above);
—Little or no exterior maintenance;
—One-level living including a Main level Owner’s Suite (larger Bedroom with private bath);
—Main level Laundry (vs. basement).
—Plentiful storage (typically, in the basement and garage).

Weighing the “Hassle Factor”

Just as important is what such homes lack.

Namely, no stairs** (challenging for aging Baby Boomer knees, backs, etc.); no common walls (= more privacy); no restrictive Association rules (limiting pet type and size — or forbidding them altogether); and no monthly association fee or dues, which can range from $100/month to . . . much more.

Before pulling the trigger, though, prospective Buyers should weigh those benefits against what I’ll call the home maintenance “hassle factor.”

That includes responsibility for the home’s roof and HVAC; shoveling the sidewalk and driveway (winter), and mowing the lawn (summer); more expensive home insurance premiums; and either boarding “Fido,” or taking him with on trips.

Especially for people who want maximum peace of mind when traveling (remember that??), the convenience of a real townhome (or condo) can be a tiebreaker . . .

**Once upon a time, townhomes were laid out horizontally.

Now, new townhomes are usually built with vertical floor plans that accommodate tuckunder garages ” no doubt a nod to more expensive land (and developers’ profit margins), as well as younger townhome Buyers.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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